Multiplex, Airports Cannot Charge More Than MRP For Bottled Water & Packaged Food Products: Govt

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Bottled Water

The anomaly had become so common, that it was almost the truth.

How many times have you wondered the business model of shops inside multiplex, airports, where bottled water, and food items are sold two, three times the MRP? How many time have you complained to them, and receive vague, clueless replies? How many times have you accepted this as the rule, and moved on?

But no more now.

No Dual MRP For Any Product

In a clear cut directive to all State Governments, Ministry of Consumer Affairs has categorically and bluntly stated that no one can sell any product at a price which is more than the MRP (Maximum Retail Price).

And this includes all packaged products such as water, food items sold inside multiplexes, airports and shopping malls.

The logic presented by the Ministry is pretty simple, and straightforward: There can’t be two MRPs for the same product, inside the same State. Hence, if a bottle of water is sold at Rs 20 inside a grocery shop, the same MRP has to be applied inside the airport and multiplex as well.

An official from the Ministry said, “There is no dual MRP provision in the packaged commodity rules and hence state governments must ensure that no one sells packaged items at different prices within a region. In case of different MRPs, the lowest one will be treated as the actual price.”

But What If..?

Business observers and analysts have come out with a theory, according to which, companies can easily find a work-around this MRP rule, and successfully charge additional money for the same product, without breaking any law.

Assume this: 1 litre of water bottle sold at grocery and departmental stores costs Rs 20, which is mentioned as the MRP. Now, if this same bottle is sold inside airports and multiplexes, then they cant charge more than Rs 20 as per the directive from the Ministry.

However, what if the FMCG companies manufacture and pack the same product in a different form, with a new MRP?

Assuming the same example, a packaged water bottle company can now pack 675 ml in a bottle, and set the MRP as Rs 60. And using some tactics, ensure that only Rs 60 MRP water bottle is available inside airports and multiplexes. Now, the consumer has to pay Rs 60, and no MRP rule has been broken as well.

The ministry has already directed National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCD- RC) to make sure that all products are sold at MRP at all locations, but if the company supplies different products at different MRPs, then the rule can be worked upon.

As per other reports, Consumer Affairs Ministry has asked all State Govts to investigate the difference in weight of break packers available in different locations.

The official said, “As per our norms, the net weight difference can be 4.5 grams. But there were complaints that bread makers were not complying with the norms. The states are empowered to inspect, verify and take action. We expect the manufacturers to comply with the specified rules and ensure consumers get products of the right weight for which they are paying..”

We appreciate the initiatives taken by Consumer Affairs Ministry to make sure that the consumer rights are protected.

We will keep you updated as more details come in..

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